“Flexible” Hours-Of-Service Rules Moving To “Next Step,” U.S. DOT Secretary Announces

Louisville, Kentucky – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao, announced on Friday at the Mid-America Trucking Show, hours-of-service (HOS) reform is moving forward.

In front of a packed audience at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Secretary Chao said a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been sent to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.

“I’m pleased to announce today that the department is moving forward with the next step which is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding HOS rules,” Chao said to a rousing ovation from those in attendance.

 

She continued, “I can’t say very much while the rule is under consideration… but let me note that the department understands the strong interest in increasing flexibility and is giving it serious consideration.”

Chao urged trucking stakeholders to continue to participate and “stay tuned.”

OMB will now have 90 days to review the NPRM before a 60-90 day comment period which could lead to the issuance of a final rule.

MORE PARKING COMING SOON?

The Secretary also addressed the lack of available truck parking calling it “key to public safety.” Also to the applause of the audience, she said the National Coalition of Truck Parking has identified funding for additional parking spaces.

Further, Chao provided updates on the Under-21 Military Pilot Program and the Crash Preventability Demonstration Project.

 

THANK YOU TRUCKERS…

Chao spent a significant portion of her 20-minute address lavishing praise onto truck drivers and the trucking industry. “You are the backbone of our economy,” she declared.

“You are the lifeblood of what makes our commerce work. We need to remind Americans more and more that food just doesn’t appear at a grocery store. It happens because you work long hours, travel long distances… your families sacrifice because of your work, and we want to thank you for it,” Chao said.

She emphasized that the department wants to truly be a partner to truck drivers and trucking industry stakeholders. “America would come to a screeching halt if you were not on your jobs helping to make life easier for the rest of us,” she proclaimed.

QUICK REACTION…

Reaction is pouring into Transportation Nation Network (TNN) from around the industry. Both the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation filed petitions with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asking for “flexibility” into HOS rules.

 

TNN has the following exclusive comments:

Kevin Burch, President of Jet Express and Past Chairman of American Trucking Associations:

“Secretary Chao and FMCSA made it clear they want to help with issues that can enhance our industry in moving America forward.”

Mike Matousek, OOIDA, Manager of Government Affairs:

“We’re excited about Secretary Chao’s announcement on several important issues. However, we also want to see what’s in each proposal so hopefully the details will be released soon. Either way though, DOT and FMCSA deserve credit for listening and responding to the interests of small-business truckers.”

Tony Justice, Founder, TruckerNation:

“I notice that a lot of the publications are giving credit to the FMCSA for listening so much more now to the trucking industry. I do believe they are, but the reason they are is because we as drivers are finally using our voice. We are not paying membership dues and relying on someone else to do the work.

We are working together. We are united on the battlefield. We might be in different areas, but we are shooting arrows at the same target. All of our hard work and sacrifice is really beginning to show.”

Dave Heller, Truckload Carriers Association, V.P. of Government Affairs:

“As an industry that thrives on flexibility, we look forward to working with Secretary Chao and Administrator Martinez on sensible changes to the Hours-of-Service regulations. While it would be premature to know what the proposed rule looks like, we can assume, with the data that has been generated by mandated electronic logging devices, that our nation’s professional truck drivers could be granted more freedom to deal with the unpredictable nature of their work day, not by increasing the numbers of hours allowed for driving or working, but rather by creating an environment that would allow drivers to capitalize on the current hours that they have available to them.

The ability to stop a clock and relieve drivers of the daily pressures facing them, like detention, congestion and even the continuous search for proper and safe truck parking, would go a long way in helping our drivers achieve greater levels of rest and operate in a manner that is as safe or safer than the rules we operate under today.” 

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